Vote-on-account or Full Budget? What is the difference? Which one is likely for 2019?

Every year, the government declares a budget laying down a plan for spending the money collected in the previous year. Although there is no restriction when collecting funds, there are certain rules the government must follow before splashing the cash. The government (executive) needs to take the permission of the Parliament (judiciary) before spending from the Consolidated Fund in accordance with Article 266 of the Constitution. Also, as per Article 114 (3), an appropriation bill must be passed before the money can be withdrawn.

The final budget of the BJP government before the General Elections will be announced soon. Sources claim that Modi & co. are ready to present a full budget for 2019 against the wish of the opposition parties who are rooting for a vote-on-account budget.

Let’s find out how these two budgets differ from each other.

A full budget includes the receipts (funds collected) from the preceding year and the expenditure and policies planned for the forthcoming year. This kind of a budget goes through intense discussions before it is passed in the Parliament. Hence, it can easily take months for a full budget to be implemented.

To support the functioning of the government ’til the time a full budget is approved by the judiciary, vote-on-account budget is there. It is a short-term budget—usually for two months—which exclusively states the expenditure the government expects in that period. Such a budget is generally passed by the Parliament without any delay. Therefore, a vote-on-account budget is a popular choice in an election year.

The BJP’s rumoured inclination to draft a full budget can be a seen as a show of confidence before the elections. The part which forms the cause of concern for the opposition, and hence, their insistence for a vote-on-account budget, is the possibility that a full budget’s policies—devised by the pre-election government—could potentially hinder the functioning of the newly-elected government in the event of a change in Centre.

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